The cost of the Tater Daze Festival was been a source of discussion on the Brooklyn Park City Council.
A committee of volunteers plan, organize and run the June festival. The city of Brooklyn Park chips in $30,000 and volunteers are tasked with finding donations to cover the rest of the cost. In recent years, the cost has exceeded collected donations and the city's contribution, which causes the city to chip in to cover the outstanding average of 10 to $15,000. In 2012, Tater Daze cost an approximate $86,150.00. After volunteers collect a few outstanding donations, the total amount the city will have to make up is around $6,000, which is less than the anticipated $15,000.
How do costs add up? The biggest source of expense for the four day festival is in salaries and overtime for maintenance workers, police officers, and city staff in facilitating the event. The second biggest expense revolves around organizing and running the parade.
Tait Turnquist is a community volunteer who is in his first year as the chairman of Tater Daze Committee Chair. He has ambitious plans to make Tater Daze more attractive and affordable for families. "We're trying to find more things to enhance Tater Daze and give us more of a signature for people to come out and look forward to," said Turnquist. "My goal is to make Tater Daze so it is a profitable thing and we don't have to rely on the city. It's going to take a lot of work, but that's my goal."
Setting a budget. But that's easier said than done. City festivals generally aren't profitable and Tater Daze has a history of shortfalls. City officials point out it's also hard to accurately predict a budget, since the festival's attendance and revenue depend upon the weather. Also, donations collected from businesses are dependant upon the economy. Both factors are beyond the Committee's control although Turnquist says they do try to monitor and adjust.
Still, some City Council members are pushing for Tater Daze to stay within budget. "I would like to see this as close to zero as possible," said council member Bob Mata when referring to the amount the city has to shell out to pay for Tater Daze.
Council member Rich Gates is advocating for discussion and attention to Tater Daze costs when outlined in the city's budget. The city will tackle the next budget in late October.
"If we have a loss in this, we aren't taking in enough money or doing something right," said Gates. "We have a loss and as a council, we need to decide whether or not that's right. I'm not excited about having a 10,000 dollar loss every year. That's more money coming our of our general budget."
Other council members point out that the festival brings a value to the community that cannot be measured in dollars.
"I think if we say if we are going to have to underwrite it for five to ten grand, then let's get rid of it, no," said Council member Peter Crema, who points out there's no reserch on how many people attend the parade or festival and patronize local businesses. "Tater Daze is a big piece of community identity. It's still something that we get 8--10 thousand people to come to in a weekend."
Council member Rich Trepanier says this isn't the end of the discussion.
"I think all of us up here would like to see the least bit of city money go into it as possible and still have it be successful," said Council Member Trepanier.
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